Definition of purple in US English:



  • 1A color intermediate between red and blue.

    ‘the painting was mostly in shades of blue and purple’
    • ‘The emerging colour scheme in my garden is purples, silvers and blues.’
    • ‘This year we avoided the cheap boxes and instead went for new cultivars, all in blues and purples.’
    • ‘The hazy, pastel colored memory faded and in bled blacks and reds and purples and blues.’
    • ‘Being a purple foliage lover, I am also fascinated by the deep purples and purples with slate blue overtones that have been developed in the flower colors.’
    • ‘The sun had nearly finished setting, darker purples and blue were overtaking the sky.’
    • ‘The flames ate hungrily, and erupted into strange hues of purples and blues.’
    • ‘At the top of the stems there are tightly packed bracts of rich blues and purples surrounding clusters of purple-blue flowers in late spring and summer.’
    • ‘Beautiful oranges and yellows, with texture filled reds and purples, the blue starry sky blending through to the setting sun.’
    • ‘Blues and purples also swept the sky, ending in a lush pink.’
    • ‘With each moment that passes, the sun's color shimmers and changes from startling purples and magentas to the soft hues of cornflower blue.’
    • ‘My vision swims, a collection of purples and blues collect in front of me, my head feeling filled with air and I stumble, reaching my arm out, grabbing onto the rail shifting my weight onto it.’
    • ‘The carpet was a mix of purples, blues greens and blacks.’
    • ‘Consider a combination of red, orange yellow and orange for a striking fall layout, or a combination of icy blues and purples for a frosty winter page.’
    • ‘Colors range from pinks, purples, lavenders, blues and whites to vivid scarlet and butter yellow.’
    • ‘They come in all sorts of colors, blues and greens and purples.’
    • ‘The colors are hypnotizing: the women are adorned with clothes of the deepest blues and purples and scorching reds and yellows.’
    • ‘Her hair was in those thick braids again - this time twisted with ribbons in hundreds of shades greens and blues and purples.’
    • ‘The sun was now slowly fading, the sky filled with blues purples and light pinks.’
    • ‘The rainbows moved and danced along the rock, turning the ordinary gray colors into reds, yellows, greens, blues and purples.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the doors opened not violently, and Landon walked in, fashioned in purples and blues.’
    1. 1.1 Purple clothing or material.
      • ‘Only a handful of adventurous souls opt for bubblegum pink, orange and purple.’
      • ‘Maroon and purple were starred under wearable fur and leather coats.’
      • ‘This person dressed always in blues and purples, softened by silvers.’
      • ‘The whole show was black, black and black, with the occasional complimentary white, pink and purple.’
      • ‘You'll find a full range of blues and purples, yellows, and snowy whites, plus exotic browns, red-browns, even off-blacks.’
      • ‘I can wear any blue - like most people - and many greens and purples that tend to blue and not maroon.’
      • ‘I was, of course, wearing purple, a commemorative shirt from a Washington cultural fair or music festival or something.’
    2. 1.2 A crimson dye obtained from some mollusks, formerly used for fabric worn by an emperor or senior magistrate in ancient Rome or Byzantium.
      • ‘The thing is, you must remember that both imperial purple and indigo are pigments, not dyes, a dye as to be soluble.’
      • ‘The region around Tyre was well known in the ancient world for its purple dye (Tyrian purple) made from the murex grandaris mollusc.’
    3. 1.3the purple (in ancient Rome or Byzantium) clothing made from fabric dyed with Tyrian purple.
      • ‘Still in ancient times, but in Rome, do you remember the imperial purple worn so proudly by the Roman toffs.’
      • ‘Garments incorporating the imperial purple were particularly valued, and at all times their sale and export was fiercely supervised.’
    4. 1.4the purple (in ancient Rome) a position of rank, authority, or privilege.
      ‘he was too young to assume the purple’
      • ‘Britain had long been a bolt-hole for pretenders to the imperial purple, and in times of crisis it had a history of seceding from the empire and looking after its own affairs.’
    5. 1.5the purple The scarlet official dress of a cardinal.


  • Of a color intermediate between red and blue.

    ‘a faded purple T-shirt’
    • ‘It opens with a borsch soup, a smooth and tangy beet broth served with a side of sour cream that melts into the bowl, marbling the intense purple colour.’
    • ‘It makes the most delicious jam because of the richness of the purple colour and fruity taste.’
    • ‘Bring the pan of water back to the boil and cook the linguini for three minutes - it will take on the purple colour.’
    • ‘I called one our maids, Andrea, to go and put the blue and purple flowers in the drawing room.’
    • ‘The variety ‘William III’ has double, rich purple flowers and chocolate hips and rarely tops 1m tall.’
    • ‘It was draped in black and topped with red, white and purple flowers.’
    • ‘Here is an abundance of wild flowers: the orchids are especially prevalent, and produce small pink / purple carpets of colour.’
    • ‘They objected to the purple colour scheme, the spiky typeface and the use of stars, and asked for a prominent disclaimer making it clear the book was not officially endorsed.’
    • ‘I am wearing dark green and white with a purple scarf - suffragette colours.’
    • ‘Apart from the low ratio of glass to metal and the extremely tight overhang, the purple colour of the car was also added to make it more appealing to the youth.’
    • ‘The purple flowers have a golden centre and their silky-hairy texture adds an extra dimension to their appeal.’
    • ‘Greens and reds are typically caused by oxygen, while purple and blue colours are caused by nitrogen.’
    • ‘He also came across the purple flower, right, named Bougainvillea, that thrives in the hot climate.’
    • ‘The broccoli now has a tiny purple flower head, so hopefully that will grow nicely and I can have some home grown!’
    • ‘She went back, and found another skirt, with a blue and purple flower imprint.’
    • ‘Yellow, white and purple flowers ringed a stage in front of a jagged mountain of dark wreckage.’
    • ‘The moors are a huge open, treeless upland area covered in heather whose purple flowers can be seen from space when they bloom in late August.’
    • ‘The first thing I noticed in the area around me were tiny, white, yellow and purple flowers.’
    • ‘This is a wonderful plant, very strong growing and with lovely dark purple flowers in July and August.’
    • ‘We pass through pretty forests of birch and pine trees, moss covered rocks and a haze of blue and purple flowers.’
    ornate, fancy, very elaborate, curlicued, over-elaborate, extravagant, baroque, fussy, busy, ostentatious, showy, wedding-cake, gingerbread
    View synonyms


  • Become or make purple in color.

    no object ‘Ed's cheeks purpled’
    with object ‘the neon was purpling the horizon above the highway’
    • ‘The sun, rising fat and slow made the darkened hat shop appear strange and purpled.’
    • ‘Her nose was all pink and purpled like marble, and her shirt still had blood o n it.’
    • ‘His face had purpled to roughly the same shade as a ripe eggplant and he banged vigorously on his desk with a gavel.’
    • ‘In addition, his right shoulder was still purpled and swollen, making Annabelle worry if it were more than dislocated.’
    • ‘The corners of her mouth were white with froth, and her tongue was purpling from the poison.’
    • ‘The other men start to tire of this sport, their shouting lowering in volume and finally stopping, but the first man continues, kicking and punching, your pale white stomach purpled with bruises.’
    • ‘Take their powdery beaks to the lilies, petals pursed, purpled and molded before they opened.’
    • ‘Four to six leaf corn has been found with four to six leaves infested and the plants showing obvious leaf yellowing and purpling and some leaf dieback.’
    • ‘The red scratches combined with the egg-sized bump already purpling with the future bruise told her why.’
    • ‘Joe has clearly taken a beating, his eyes are purpled and swollen and there is blood running down his neck and back, yet it is he who is astride Colin, pounding his face in with blow after blow.’
    • ‘There, drawn in ink that had purpled in antiquity like a bruise, was the Headless symbol.’
    • ‘Heading back, we come upon a group of kids walking with buckets full of berries, their lips and a wide ring beyond purpled with berry juice, their teeth appearing unnaturally white as they smile and wave.’
    • ‘The skin that showed above her forearm archer's guards was already purpling.’
    • ‘The hollyhocks are gone now, and the concrete is purpled by mulberries instead.’


  • born in (or to) the purple

    • Born into a reigning family or privileged class.

      • ‘Somehow, I find that frank ‘I was born to the purple’ sort of elitism easier to stomach than their attitude.’
      • ‘It is worth noting that he was clearly not born to the purple.’
      • ‘Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna Romanov was the only child ‘born to the purple’, and she was a welcome change from the horror of the previous 18 months.’
      • ‘He was one of twin sons born to Marcus Aurelius and Annia Galeria Faustina in August 161, the first emperor ‘born in the purple’.’


Old English (describing the clothing of an emperor), alteration of purpre, from Latin purpura ‘purple’, from Greek porphura, denoting mollusks that yielded a crimson dye, also cloth dyed with this.